When I was at the hospital yesterday, The Jungle Book was playing on TV in the pediatrics’ section. So as I waited to do the whole co-pay thing, I watched. There were no kids, no moms, no noise – which is not how I remember my childhood doctor’s appointments.
I remember being 86 pounds, covered in chicken pox, and mad at my Mom for making me wear calamine lotion in public. I also remember being clad in flowery spandex (with a little snake poop on them) and dying from Salmonella symptoms. Salmonella, by the way, is the. worst. thing. ever. Forget labor pains or Chinese water torture – it’s actually Salmonella. And I am convinced I contracted Salmonella from the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese. Because let’s be real: there are probably fifteen different strains of Salmonella in all ball pits, at all times. But like jumpy castles and trampolines, ball pits are effin’ awesome, so they’re worth it.
But anyway, so I watched the scene towards the end of the movie where Baloo gets the shiz kicked out of him by Shere Khan. Vultures, fire… you remember.
I was kind’ve of surprised because I was really excited watching this movie. I literally felt just like a little girl again, and that surprised me. I was surprised she was still in there. My brain started making all these connections, like “Oh yeahhh, ‘Bare Necessities,” and Rudyard Kipling’s If, and sweaty skin under a soccer uniform under a pink setting sky, and Pop Rocks, and a heart that didn’t ask any questions that hurt it.
I come upon this feeling sometimes, and I love it. A trigger – whatever it is – brings my attention to a breathing, pulsing interweb of experiences that are normally asleep. Like dumping Life onto the kitchen floor so I can really take a look at it. And then I remember: oh yeahhhh – I played catcher for ten years and sold 102 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, which was actually considered an underachievement in Troop #8385.
I’m always stunned by this. Like, god, I forget how much I’ve done. Not in like a resume/GPA kind of way. Rather in a – look how many Christmas mornings, loves lost, and games of Horse I’ve played-kind of way.
And though we have these common experiences, like watching The Jungle Book or going to a Padre game, they attach within us differently. Maybe we all went to Blink 182 when Travis Barker and his entire drum set spun in the air – but when we recall the memories, we see different faces. We hear different things and we were entirely different people.
Life cycles are fascinating to me. And just kind’ve being aware of it – of my own mortality – makes me chill out. Nothing sticks around. Nothing, except for like, petrified forests and crazy types of coral. Even mountains have a beginning, middle, and an end. There’s something very calming about that. It’s the circle of life, bro, and it moves us all (by the way, I Googled the “Circle of Life” lyrics… my mind is blown).
But these aren’t things I always remember. More often I remember how much money I’m making and that I need to go to Trader Joe’s.
Eckhart Tolle says that the normal state of the mind is crazy. Straight up crazy. I believe this is true because I’ve read too much about this topic to think otherwise. It’s undeniable that we battle warring forces within us. If someone tells you they don’t do this, they’re a) the Dalai Lama or b) they’re lying. Even Yonce gets blue… for like five seconds and then she goes back to being awesome.
John Mee called it the “fever and fret of life.” Ranier Maria Rilke referred to it as, “Everything unresolved in the heart.” On the bad days, for me, it feels like one hundred questions sitting on my chest blocking my airway.
I see it in other people, too. The girl throwing up on a Tuesday at noon in the adjacent bathroom stall (and you always know what they’re doing, it just sounds different). The girl who focuses all her time on finding a Mr. Right to fix her. The girl who used to run ten miles at midnight just to beat the demons out through the bottoms of her tennis shoes.
We can’t have control of everything, but we think we can, and we want to. So we do this thing, some of the above, which is a little like grabbing at air. It robs us of the moment which might be all that matters.
Like, really. What I remember about my life is lying in the grass after graduation with a beer buzz and some of my best friends as warm rain fell from a Colorado sky. I remember Easter egg hunting with my sisters and the sound of my uncle’s laugh. This. Is. The. Stuff. That. Matters.
Yes, we should plan for the future, but I don’t think we should constantly be trying to glue blueprints down. If anything, I think we should be conscious of how we’re orienting ourselves to the moment. Are we being brave, thankful, mindful, faithful right this second? Check, check, check? Great, perfect – because then we can use these minutes to make future memories. I want and need to live my life this way.
One day, we’ll wake up and realize we’re living the answers to the questions we’ve been asking. Our kids will jump onto our bed, or an award will glint from its place on the wall, and we’ll know we’ve “made it” but won’t be able to pin point a time when it happened. Or worse? Our attitudes of “someday is better” never change.
I don’t want this to happen to me. So to you I would say, and to myself, too, happy Friday. Have the best damn weekend ever because you just should. Just be happy because life’s too short not to be.